Oriel emerged victorious in this tight Cuppers affair against Exeter, which could have gone either way. The match had all the hallmarks of Cuppers football; university players on both sides, brand new kit, and the desperate wish to avoid the ignominy of going out in the first round.
The match itself lived up to expectations, with some strong tackles, at times heroic defending and an array of questionable linesman decisions, especially from Oriel’s ‘Big Phil’, who attempted to overrule the referee when he had disallowed an Exeter goal after 20 minutes which was marginally offside. Exeter continued to look dangerous and only a superb stop by Alex Khosla could prevent them going one up. Khosla had, of course, saved a penalty in the last Exeter v. Oriel encounter, and we have not stopped hearing about it since.
It was however Oriel who struck first, a corner was cleared to Callum Pontin at right back, only for the blue haired and ear-ringed fresher to lob the keeper from 35 yards. For a modern man such as Callum (who drinks WKD at a football curry) this was an old school lob, Cantona esque.
Cue the second half and the introduction of Oriel’s super sub Samuel Beer, in replacement of Francis ‘Mad Dog’ Dennig. For a man who has played football up front for nearly 3 years but never scored, it is commendable that he even turned up. Today was the day Beero broke his duck, with an screamer from just inside the box after leaving the Exeter left back in his wake. Benjamin Venegoor of Wethered wrapped up the game for Oriel in a second half that became increasingly stretched after a superb lobbed through ball from Jason Adebisi. A late consolation goal for Exeter couldn’t stop Oriel’s march into the next round.
St Anne’s 0
The world of Cuppers football is an ever-changing hub of unpredictability; but never before, in my entire journalistic career of reporting for the Cherwell, have I witnessed such chaotic scenes of disarray as last weekend’s fixture between St Anne’s and Magdalen. The first half proceeded without incident (other than three entirely unremarkable and unintentional goals committed by Magdalen).
It was in the second half, however, that my perceptions of sporting reality were shaken to their very core as Magdalen had the sheer audacity to score two more goals, one of which was an outrageously fortunate 30-yard strike into the top corner. The perpetrator later apologised, explaining “I never intended to score; there was a fly on my boot and in order to remove it I swung my leg violently in any random direction. The contact with the ball was merely coincidental.” Reportedly, a compensatory Strada student card has been sent to the distraught St Anne’s goalkeeper, Josh Williams. “It’s a nice gesture,” muttered the ex-St Anne’s Captain, “but it will never stop the pain. Or the self-hatred.”
This is not to say it was a one-sided affair; by its very nature, football requires two teams. But have you ever seen a baby wrestle a bear? It was like that. But with more blood. And less fur. Indeed injuries rained down on St Anne’s hallowed turf (technically property of St John’s) as American quarter-back Sheldon Edwards dislocated all three of his shoulders. Midway through the second half, the introduction of Magdalen playmaker/cleaning detergent, “Flash”, cemented the Mint Green Army’s defeat. After the inevitable fifth goal, St Anne’s peer support team were put on “High Alert” status but this proved unnecessary as the home side remained on the pitch for hours, rejoicing in the miracle that it wasn’t 6.
Rory O’Keefe and Tim Schneider
Cuppers first round is supposed to be the game in which you can pick your team from the very best your college has to offer, have a full bench worth of subs and perhaps even a crowd. Unfortunately the message of the importance of this game never seemed to get through to a Somerville squad who dropped out throughout the week with remarkable regularity – excuses varying from a dislocated shoulder to an MCR jolly in Dublin.
To add to the anti-climax of the occasion the assigned referee pulled out due to ‘parking security concerns’ at the notorious crime hotspot of Pembroke sports ground. A reluctant Pembroke spectator was therefore drafted in to officiate and, despite the lack of a whistle, did a fairly good job. His only major mistake actually went against his own college, giving a free kick rather than a penalty despite the mistimed tackle causing a very obvious mark on the pitch a few feet inside the Somerville area.
The game itself was entertaining and lively. Somerville took the lead on four occasions but Pembroke pegged them back every time, eventually taking an unassailable lead in extra time. The stand out performance for Somerville came from Alexander Portz who scored three and set up the other of his team’s goals. Having experienced his wayward shooting so far this season, when he set himself 30 yards out in the first few minutes most Somerville players were preparing themselves for the inevitable goal kick which would follow. To everyone’s surprise however he unleashed a stunning, swerving left footed strike which flew past the helpless Pembroke keeper. Unfortunately his efforts were in vain as Pembroke took advantage of a rapidly tiring Somerville defence to run away with the game in extra time, and head through to the next round.